Canada shouldn’t use teenage Saudi refugee as a ‘political football’: ex-ambassador – National


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Canada did the best factor by granting asylum to Saudi lady Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun however ought to take steps to make sure that the case doesn’t trigger irreversible injury to relations with Saudi Arabia, says Canada’s former ambassador to Riyadh.

Dennis Horak has first-hand data of the two international locations’ testy relationship, having been expelled from Saudi Arabia in August within the wake of Canada’s criticism of the dominion’s detention of ladies’s rights activists.

That relationship faces renewed challenges following Canada’s choice to grant asylum to Al-Qunun, the daughter of a Saudi governor, who fled Saudi Arabia and accused her father and different male family of abuse.

The 18-year-old arrived in Toronto on Saturday after resisting her household’s makes an attempt to have her returned to Saudi Arabia from Bangkok, the place she barricaded herself in an airport lodge room and launched a Twitter marketing campaign to plead for asylum.

READ MORE: ‘A really courageous new Canadian’  Saudi lady who fled household arrives in Toronto

“I feel [granting her asylum] was the best factor to do however it’s going to have an effect in Saudi Arabia when it comes to their views in the direction of Canada. They’ll see this as yet one more instance of our ‘interference’ of their inner affairs,” Horak advised World Information.

“If we make her a political soccer to make use of this case to bash the Saudis to make our level on Saudi human rights, I feel that may exacerbate the state of affairs even additional. And it wouldn’t do her any good both.”

Horak stated that whereas it’s inevitable that the Al-Qunun case will worsen tensions within the quick time period, Canada might mitigate the injury by sustaining an open line of communication with Saudi Arabia.

“I feel at this level, it’s time to let her settle in after which work and speak with the Saudis and clarify to them why we did what we did, and maybe that may mitigate among the injury that will happen,” stated Horak.

WATCH: Saudi teen fleeing household granted asylum in Canada

The case has additionally sparked issues about potential Saudi retaliation towards the 20,00zero Canadians who reside within the Arab world’s richest nation.

Final month, two Canadian males had been arrested in China amid tensions between Ottawa and Beijing over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor stay in Chinese language custody after being arrested on suspicion of spying and endangering nationwide safety.

READ MORE: Chinese language ambassador pens op-ed on Canadian detainees, slams ‘Western egotism and white supremacy’

Horak stated it’s unlikely that Saudi Arabia would resort to related ways, though he said that Canadian expats within the kingdom may encounter different difficulties.

“For my part, lots of the Canadians which might be there are doing worthwhile work, so I don’t suppose I might see them being arrested for instance as we’ve seen in China,” he stated.

“They might encounter — and I feel some have already for the reason that summertime — problem with issues like visa renewals or contract renewals… or in the event that they’re on the lookout for new jobs with different corporations, Canadians is probably not the popular citizenship for potential employers.

“However I wouldn’t be overly involved about arrests and issues.”

WATCH: Ottawa delegation in China as two Canadians stay detained

Horak stated it’s important that diplomatic relations don’t change into strained to the purpose that Canada and Saudi Arabia shutter their embassies in one another’s territories.

“That will surely not be in Canada’s pursuits and I don’t suppose that’ll occur,” he stated, though he cautioned that “overreaction can’t be dominated out” on the a part of the Saudis.

“It’s essential that Canada be there, it’s essential that Canada have an embassy there to supply protections, regular consular providers and consular protections which might be finest delivered when there’s an embassy on the bottom,” he stated.

A man stands outside the Canadian embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Aug. 7, 2018.

A person stands exterior the Canadian embassy within the Saudi capital Riyadh, Aug. 7, 2018.

Nasser Al-Harbi/AFP/Getty Pictures

Considerations of diplomatic tensions apart, Horak credited Al-Qunun’s case for shining a highlight on Saudi Arabia’s guardianship legal guidelines which curtail girls’s freedom.

“After I was there, Saudi girls talked to me rather a lot in regards to the guardianship legal guidelines. The West was speaking all about driving and so they stated, ‘no that’s high quality, I’m driving, that’s high quality’ however the true challenge for them is the guardianship legal guidelines,” he stated.

It’s potential that Al-Qunun’s case will spur a renewed examination of guardianship legal guidelines, Horak stated, though he warned it might additionally spark a conservative backlash, with households additional tightening restrictions on daughters.

So far as Al-Qunun’s future goes, Horak stated it’s essential to let her take her time to settle into Canadian life reasonably than drive her to change into a mouthpiece towards Saudi human rights abuses.

“I feel she must have time to settle in and if she decides down the street that she needs to be an activist and be very vocal on this, that’s nice,” he stated.

“However that ought to be as much as her and never one thing that we push her into.”

— With information from Grant MacDonald

© 2019 World Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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